The Federal Government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the Federal courts, respectively.

There are hundreds of Federal agencies and commissions charged with handling such responsibilities as managing America’s space program, protecting its forests, and gathering intelligence. For a full listing of Federal Agencies, Departments, and Commissions, visit USA.gov.

Elections & Voting

Federal elections occur every two years, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Every member of the House of Representatives and about one-third of the Senate is up for reelection in any given election year. Federal elections are administered by State and local Governments, although the specifics of how elections are conducted differ between the states.

State & Local Government

Under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all powers not granted to the Federal Government are reserved for the States and the people. All State Governments are modeled after the Federal Government and consist of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The U.S. Constitution mandates that all states uphold a “republican form” of government, although the three-branch structure is not required.

The Grounds

The White House and its surrounding grounds serve as both the home of the President of the United States and First Family and as a museum of American history. The White House is a place where history continues to unfold.

  • Every president since John Adams has occupied the White House, and the history of this building extends far beyond the construction of its walls.
  • Located in Catoctin Mountain Park in Frederick County, Maryland, Camp David, known formally as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont, is the President’s country residence.
  • Air Force One is used to describe any Air Force aircraft carrying the President. Today, this name refers to one of two highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft.
  • The Eisenhower Executive Office Building is located next to the West Wing and houses a majority of offices for White House staff.
  • The Vice President’s Residence & Office is located on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory (USNO)—the white 19th Century house at Number One Observatory Circle.

Past Presidents

Which President served as a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American war? Who was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War? Who introduced Social Security? If you’re looking to learn more about the past Presidents who have led our country, you’re in the right place. Take a look at our full set of biographies. Then, quiz your friends.

Learn More About Each President


  1. George Washington
  2. John Adams
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. James Madison
  5. James Monroe
  6. John Quincy Adams
  7. Andrew Jackson
  8. Martin Van Buren
  9. William Henry Harrison
  10. John Tyler
  11. James K. Polk
  12. Zachary Taylor
  13. Millard Fillmore
  14. Franklin Pierce
  15. James Buchanan
  16. Abraham Lincoln
  17. Andrew Johnson
  18. Ulysses S. Grant
  19. Rutherford B. Hayes
  20. James Garfield
  21. Chester A. Arthur
  22. Grover Cleveland
  23. Benjamin Harrison
  24. Grover Cleveland
  25. William McKinley
  26. Theodore Roosevelt
  27. William Howard Taft
  28. Woodrow Wilson
  29. Warren G. Harding
  30. Calvin Coolidge
  31. Herbert Hoover
  32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  33. Harry S. Truman
  34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  35. John F. Kennedy
  36. Lyndon B. Johnson
  37. Richard M. Nixon
  38. Gerald R. Ford
  39. James Carter
  40. Ronald Reagan
  41. George H. W. Bush
  42. William J. Clinton
  43. George W. Bush
  44. Barack Obama
  45. Donald J. Trump

Past First Ladies

Which two first ladies met their husbands through local newspapers? Who was the first First Lady to make regular nationwide radio broadcasts? Which First Lady cared for wounded soldiers in her husband’s command? Who was originally a Broadway actress before becoming the First Lady?  If you’re looking to learn more about the past First Ladies who have helped lead our country, you’re in the right place. Take a look at our full set of biographies. Then, quiz your friends.

Learn More About Each First Lady


  1. Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
  2. Abigail Smith Adams
  3. Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson
  4. Dolley Payne Todd Madison
  5. Elizabeth Kortright Monroe
  6. Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams
  7. Rachel Donelson Jackson
  8. Hannah Hoes Van Buren
  9. Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison
  10. Letitia Christian Tyler
  11. Julia Gardiner Tyler
  12. Sarah Childress Polk
  13. Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor
  14. Abigail Powers Fillmore
  15. Jane Means Appleton Pierce
  16. Harriet Lane
  17. Mary Todd Lincoln
  18. Eliza McCardle Johnson
  19. Julia Dent Grant
  20. Lucy Ware Webb Hayes
  21. Lucretia Rudolph Garfield
  22. Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur
  23. Frances Folsom Cleveland
  24. Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison
  25. Frances Folsom Cleveland
  26. Ida Saxton McKinley
  27. Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt
  28. Helen Herron Taft
  29. Ellen Axson Wilson
  30. Edith Bolling Galt Wilson
  31. Florence Kling Harding
  32. Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge
  33. Lou Henry Hoover
  34. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
  35. Elizabeth Virginia Wallace Truman
  36. Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower
  37. Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy
  38. Claudia Taylor (Lady Bird) Johnson
  39. Patricia Ryan Nixon
  40. Elizabeth Bloomer Ford
  41. Rosalynn Smith Carter
  42. Nancy Davis Reagan
  43. Barbara Pierce Bush
  44. Hillary Rodham Clinton
  45. Laura Welch Bush
  46. Michelle Obama
  47. Melania Trump

Tours and Events

nyone visiting DC can experience the history and art of the White House in person after submitting a tour request through one’s Member of Congress.

Public tour requests must be submitted through one’s Member of Congress.  These self-guided tours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (excluding federal holidays or unless otherwise noted).  Tour hours will be extended when possible based on the official White House schedule. Tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. Requests can be submitted up to three months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. You are encouraged to submit your request as early as possible as a limited number of spaces are available. All White House tours are free of charge.  (Please note that White House tours may be subject to last minute cancellation.)

If you wish to visit the White House and are a citizen of a foreign country, please contact your embassy in Washington, DC for assistance in submitting a tour request.

Forms of Identification

All guests 18 years of age or older will be required to present a valid, government-issued photo identification (detailed below). All foreign nationals must present their passport. All other forms of foreign identification will not be accepted.
All information submitted (e.g. name, date of birth, city, etc.) must exactly match the government-issued photo ID you will present when arriving at the White House.

The following forms of photo ID are acceptable for presentation to USSS upon entry to the White House complex:

  • Valid government-issued United States identification card (e.g. drivers license, military ID, etc.)
  • Valid United States or other official government-issued passports

No other forms of identification will be accepted; photocopies, expired IDs, or other transmissions of these documents are NOT valid.

Prohibited Items

Prohibited items include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Video Recorders
  • Handbags, book bags, backpacks or purses
  • Food or beverages, tobacco products, personal grooming items (i.e. makeup, lotion, etc.)
  • Strollers
  • Any pointed objects
  • Aerosol containers
  • Guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts weapons/devices, or knives of any size

As of July 1, 2015, Smartphones and compact cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches (stills only) are permitted on the public tour route as long as their use does not interfere with other guests’ enjoyment of the tour.

Video cameras including any action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods and camera sticks are not permitted.

Flash photography or live stream as well as talking or texting on cellular phones is not permitted while on the tour.

The U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other personal items. Umbrellas, wallets, car keys, and cell phones (including those with cameras) are permitted. However, guests will not be allowed to use cell phones inside the White House. Phones used inside the White House may be confiscated by US Secret Service.

Please note that no storage facilities are available on or around the complex. Individuals who arrive with prohibited items will not be permitted to enter the White House.

Parking

The closest Metrorail stations to the White House are Federal Triangle (blue and orange lines), Metro Center (blue, orange, and red lines) and McPherson Square (blue and orange lines). On-street parking is not available near the White House, and use of public transportation is strongly encouraged.

Restrooms

The nearest restrooms to the White House are in the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion (the park area south of the White House). Restrooms or public telephones are not available at the White House.

Mobility-Impaired / Wheelchairs

Visitors scheduled for tours who require the loan of a wheelchair should notify the officer at the Visitors Entrance upon arrival. Unfortunately, reservations are not possible. Visitors in wheelchairs, or with other mobility disabilities, use the same Visitors Entrance and are escorted by ramp from the entrance level to the Ground floor, and by elevator from the Ground floor to the State floor.

Hearing-Impaired & Visually-Impaired

Please contact your Member of Congress if you have a hearing or visual impairment and require assistance during your White House tour. Guide animals are permitted in the White House.

Current Information

All visitors should call the 24-hour Visitors Office information line at 202-456-7041 to determine if any last minute changes have been made in the tour schedule.